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WMCA welcomes preferred HS2 route north

WMCA welcomes preferred HS2 route north

🕔15.Nov 2016

The chair of the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) has said the Government’s decision for its preferred route for Phase 2 of HS2 from Crewe to Manchester and the West Midlands to Leeds places the region at the heart of the £55 billion HS2 network and was good news for future prosperity, improved connectivity, and much needed capacity on the rail network in the region.

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling today confirmed the majority of the preferred HS2 route from Crewe to Manchester and the West Midlands to Leeds HS2 in what was described as a major boost for the UK’s future economic prosperity and a further clear signal the country is open for business.

The Government says that the new HS2 trains will carry over 300,000 people a day and will triple seats available out of Euston at peak hours, freeing up space on the existing network for additional commuter and freight services.

HS2 will create around 25,000 jobs during construction as well as 2,000 apprenticeships. It will also support growth in the wider economy, worth an additional 100,000 jobs, according to the Transport department.

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said:

Our railways owe much to the Victorian engineers who pioneered them, but we cannot rest on their legacy when we face overcrowding and capacity problems.

HS2 is an ambitious and exciting project and the government is seizing the opportunity it offers to build a transport network fit for the 21st century; one that works for all and makes clear to the world that Britain remains open for business.

The full HS2 route will be a game-changer for the country that will slash journey times and perhaps most importantly give rail passengers on the existing network thousands of extra seats every day. They represent the greatest upgrade to our railway in living memory.

But while it will bring significant benefits, I recognise the difficulties faced by communities along the route. They will be treated with fairness, compassion and respect and, as with Phase One, we intend to introduce further compensation which goes over and above what is required by law.

The Transport Secretary has today also announced that HS2 Ltd has awarded a £900 million construction contract.

The chair of the WMCA welcomed the announcement. Cllr Bob Sleigh  said:

HS2 puts the West Midlands in a unique position, ensuring quicker journeys to the UK’s biggest cities and freeing up capacity on the existing rail infrastructure, without which services will suffer.

It will help this region to deliver growth and job creation and create a more competitive, diverse economy from which the whole of the UK will benefit.

HS2 is a cornerstone of the WMCA’s strategic economic plan and will enable us to think about new ways of trading with other regions in skills and products, creating the critical mass of talent, innovation and accessibility that cities such as London take for granted.

However Cllr Sleigh said there were people in the WMCA region who would be affected by the proposed route and urged then to make their views known to the public consultation that will now follow today’s announcement.

Areas such as Tamworth and Kingsbury will be impacted by the new line and inevitably there are people whose lives will be affected.

I would urge them to make their views known because, as was proved in the earlier consultation in 2013, the Government will listen and take those views on board wherever possible.

Communities Secretary Sajid Javid said:

The new HS2 routes laid out today will make sure our plans to create an economy that works for everyone remain right on track.

We are determined to get both the Midlands Engine and Northern Powerhouse firing on all cylinders and HS2 will help create new growth, jobs and homes right across the line.

The Transport Secretary has published a command paper High Speed Two: from Crewe to Manchester, the West Midlands to Leeds and beyond, setting out the announcement in more detail.

Earlier this month the government announced a new rail franchise which will combine the current InterCity West Coast services with the development and introduction of High Speed 2 services.

The new franchise – the West Coast Partnership – will be responsible for services on both the West Coast Main Line from 2019 and designing and running the initial high speed services from 2026.

The franchise, which will run for the first 3 to 5 years of operation of HS2, is the first step in “attracting a world-class bidding group to develop and enhance the service for West Coast passengers and pave the way for the introduction of HS2 services in the future.”

Chairman of HS2 Ltd Sir David Higgins said:

This is a real opportunity to ensure HS2 services complement and enhance existing ones. I have always been clear HS2 will not be a standalone railway but fully integrated with the wider network. It will provide a new backbone for our railways, modernising services to better serve towns and cities up and down the country.

Bringing on board a new partner to work with HS2 Ltd now will help ensure we are working towards the same goal.

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